Best projectors: Portable and home cinema projectors for every occasion and budget

·10-min read
 (Samsung)
(Samsung)

Once upon a time, home cinemas were reserved for people with large homes and bulging wallets. These days anyone can enjoy the cinema experience from the comfort of their living room, bedroom and or even hotel room, by investing in a projector.

The universally useful projector can be a solution to maximising space in cramped co-living conditions and an alternative to cumbersome, and let’s face it - downright ugly TV sets and screens. As technology advances, these handy devices can come in all sizes, price points and for all needs and purposes.

There are the sleek and portable options that can be easily slipped into your bag for impromptu Netflix sessions on-the-move, or for propping up in your garden during summer for al fresco movie watching. For bigger budgets where a more permanent use is desired, there are affordable projectors that offer amazing resolution and image quality.

But with so much choice out there, it can be hard to pick the right one for you. While portable projectors might seem like the best option, if you’re planning on using it mainly at home, then some of the higher end varieties will be a much more worthwhile investment in the long run. To make your search easier, we’ve broken down some of the tech-y jargon to help you get an idea of which kind of projector is the best one for you.

What to look out for in a projector

Projectors have many variables in resolution, brightness and screen size. The more impressive specs doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best one for your needs and uses either. The main variables to look out for are resolution (image quality and details), screen size and throw (how far from the wall or screen the projector needs to be and how big the screen size can get up to), and lumens (brightness). What kind of spec you should be looking for in your projector is dependent on it’s uses. Will you be using it in indoors? Will it be staying in one place or moving around the house? What kind of lighting will it be competing with? How big is the room?

Next, you can think about add-ons like connectivity and portability. If you’re taking this one away with you then you’ll want to prioritise connectivity or size over lumens.

Lingo to know

Resolution: pixels and image quality

Not all projectors are made equal and the quality of the technology will affect the cost. The most important thing to look for is the image quality, or its resolution. The higher the resolution means the higher the image quality and how many details you will be able to see projected onto the surface.

Even projectors on the lower end of the budget can boast full HD credentials (approx 1080 pixels), while Ultra High Definition (UHD) resolution is 4K. Mid-range projectors tend to offer mostly HD resolution and the better (and more expensive) projectors will offer 4k.

Lumens: screen brightness

The higher the lumens means the higher the brightness of the projection (pay attention to this if you plan on using your projector outside or leaving the curtains open when you’re watching).

If your projector is for home cinema use then look for 1,500 lumens as a minimum. 500 lumens will suit a projector being used outdoors. Cheaper options tend to offer around 200-300 lumens, which does the job well enough when watching in a dark room.

Screen size

The best screen size for you depends on where it’s being placed and how big or small the space your working with is. Choose a screen size capability according to how big your wall or screen.

Throw: how far the projector needs to be from the screen

Projectors can be wall mounted or placed far away or near to the screen. Some projectors will have the ability to project large images despite being placed at a close distance from the wall or screen.

Now that you’ve got the lingo down, you’re free to browse our selection of great projectors to match your budget and purpose. See below for our recommendations of cheap and cheerful portable options as well as the high-end home cinema varieties. We’ve split our edit into those that are portable and ones more suited to staying in one place. There are also a range different price points for each type from those costing less than £100 to the latest and most innovative investments to elevate your living room.

So pull up your comfiest chair and get the snacks ready, these projectors will turn watching even the silliest of YouTube videos into a cinematic experience.

Portable: KODAK Luma 75 Projector

Best for: ultra-portability

Proving that good things come in small packages, the Kodak Luma 75 offers a projection quality that belies its tiny size with its 1080p HD resolution. It’s sleek and lightweight design makes this a convenient option for taking with you on trips or using away from home.

Compatible with most devices, with integrated HDMI, USB and microSD connectivity. Use with a power outlet, or take advantage of up to two hours of battery power.

Buy now £169.99, Amazon

PVO Portable Mini Projector

Best for: A decent, cost-effective projector for when image quality isn’t a priority

This option won’t break the bank and does for the job adequately enough for the price. It can project up to 150 inches, and is small enough for portable use. It’s conveniently kitted out with HDMI, USB audio, microSD ports and so can be easily connected to loads of devices from TVs to laptops and cameras. Although not completely portable (no built-in battery), it can be easily powered by portable power banks and phone chargers (with micro-USB interface).

This option is high on convenience but low on other specs such as lumens. Recommended use with a dark room to ensure the low lumens doesn’t get in the way of your viewing experience.

Buy now £69.99, Amazon

Elephas WiFi Projector

Best for: A bestselling smartphone and WiFi friendly projector

This inexpensive option is a great entry-level candidate. It’s compatible with smartphones like Android and iPhones, and lets you stream from small phone screens via syncing with a WIFI connection. No available WiFi? No problem. You can also connect with a cable. It has ports for HDMI, USB, VGA, AV and SD. Audio-wise, you can choose to wirelessly connect with a speaker system or make use of the in-built speaker. It offers 1080p HD resolution and boasts a screen size of up to 200 inches.

Buy now £92.99, Amazon

KODAK Luma 350 portable smart projector

Best for: slim-fit portability with smart, Android powered technology

Sporting similar portability as the slightly smaller Luma 75, the Luma 350 also has the added bonus of being powered by Android and featuring Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity. Android technology allows you to download apps and stream your favourite shows without any extra faff. Throw in the sleek, compact design and this portable smart projector certainly wins points for convenience.

Don’t be fooled by its size either, the Luma 350 has 150 lumen and 4K UHD pixels. If needed you can also connect via USB and HDMI inputs.

Buy now £299.99, Amazon

LG CineBeam Portable PH510PG Projector

Best for: A good all rounder projector for both home use and portability

This powerful LED projector has a built in battery for up to two and a half hours of portable viewing. Link your phone and projector for a wireless and cinematic screening experience. It can also be paired with your home audio system via Bluetooth. It has 550 lumens making it suitable for use in a dimly lit room or outside. Its LED bulb offers crisp and clear colours that’ll last a long time. A great, reasonably priced option for a home cinema that can adapt to being on the move too.

Buy now £354.99, Amazon

Epson EF-12 3LCD

Best for: A projector that packs a serious punch

This option from Epson is a superb quality portable projector that offers smart and high resolution watching for those with a higher budget. It boasts full HD resolution, a lumens of 1000 and screen size of up to 150 inches, which makes a very good all-rounder on the spec front. At less than £1000, you will need to splash the cash but you will be investing in very good quality.

It offers a very good colour reproduction with 3LCD laser projection. The resolution won’t allow you to enjoy the full glory of this projector unless watching in a pretty dark room, so get yourself fully immersed in the latest blockbusters in the optimal cinema experience.

Buy now £879.00, Amazon

Anker Nebula Apollo Projector

Best for: A compact projector with surround sound

This cylindrical little guy looks just as good as it sounds. It won’t take up an offensive amount of space propped up in your chosen screening room, and viewers will appreciate the 6 watts surround sound speaker. The lumens fall in the lower end of the spectrum, so you’ll have to draw the curtains when sitting back to watch your favourites. It’s compact size manages wins back a few points, and allows it to be highly portable.

Buy now £399.99, Amazon

Smartphone projector

Best for: a projector for less than £30

Granted, this cheap as chips option isn’t going to be offering anything other than the most basic projecting. Made from corrugated cardboard, this gimick-y invention will simply let you project from the screen of your phone and onto the wall. It offers 8x magnification and the design allows for a slightly amplified sound too. Perfect for watching TikToks from your bed when a small screen simply won’t do.

Buy now £22.00, Urban Outfitters

Projectors for home cinema: Optoma HD146x

Best for: A low budget home cinema projector

This projector boasts superb lumens (3600 to be precise) and so you’ll be able to enjoy viewing the full HD projections even in daylight. Its long throw and large 301 inch screen size puts the Optoma HD146x in good stead for being an excellent all-rounder projector that’s ideal for using as a home cinema. Time to chuck out that ugly TV set once and for all - this is a great quality replacement and at a very reasonable price.

Buy now £479.00, Currys

Samsung The Premier LSP7T Smart Projector

Best for: A top tier projector to burn a hole in your pocket

Samsung have upped the game with this pricey but excellent quality projector. If you want the best on the market for home viewing purposes, then your search ends here. The Samsung Premier LSP7T boasts features like 4K resolution, laser projection and an ultra short throw (you’ll be able to beam the 120 inch screen from even very short distances from the wall). It’s not cheap, but sometimes only the best will do.

Buy now £3999.00, John Lewis

BenQ W1720 4K Projector

Best for: 4K quality on a mid range budget

For a 4K resolution on a 1K budget then look no further than this offering from BenQ. It has a 2000 Ansi Lumens meaning you don’t need to worry too much about ambient lighting ruining your image quality. Competitively priced at less than £1000, this projector gives you bang for your buck.

Buy now £999.00, Amazon

Anker Nebula 4K Cosmos Projector

Best for: A cosmically good projector with 4K quality and extra features

Another reasonably priced and generously spec’d out projector. With credentials like 1,500 lumens, a 4K lens and apps like Disney+ and Hulu preloaded onto the UFO-esque design, it fits the bill nicely for a state-of-the-art home cinema projector.

Buy now £1399.99, Amazon

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